Friday, August 12, 2011

Honolulu Finds

Honolulu, the Disneyland of Hawaiian islands, is chock-full of generic sushi bars and pseudo-Hawaiian food joints. Thus, I'm determined to create a list of restaurants that are authentic, or at least aren't deemed "tourist traps". Halfway through our trip and I'm completely satisfied with our choices. Cream Pot, a mom-and-pop brunch shop, unlike other breakfast bars, has a distinctly Japanese flair. The Maguro Benedict, instead of brioche, is done with  slices of fresh tuna, atop a grilled rice patty drizzled with a light miso sauce.


Maguro Benedict
 Located in a shabby parking lot is Ono Seafood, poke specialist. Poke is a Hawaiian staple of cubed raw fish, and much like seafood salad is eaten cold. This is the ultimate utility lunch here in Honolulu. With no tables, most locals carry out or demolish it within seconds in the car. Having had my fair share of poke or its cousin, the tartare - each version played out and tweaked to a point where distinction of the two has become ambiguous-  I can claim as long as it's fresh and the seasoning is right, you can't go wrong. And this is a perfect example. Although, sitting beside a seasick dive buddy while grazing on raw fish doesn't exactly enhance the experience. Remnants of his meal has become Nemo &  Co's feast. Ya brah.

Combo Poke - Spicy mayo, Original
  I'm having mixed feelings of Giovanni's Shrimp Truck. Yes, the grilled scampi drowning in sauteed garlic and olive oil is disturbingly good. But did it justify waiting 30 minutes under the scalding tropic sun? Is it annoying watching people fight over markers to graffiti the truck? Is it odd to find tour buses making pit stops here? You be the judge.

Alan Wongs, you have your quintessential 5 star regional Hawaiian cuisine, uber-fresh ingredients and waitstaff that caters impeccably. What more can I say?

Frankly, I never expected to enjoy my meals here in Hawaii. However, Honolulu has proved to be a city of flavors beyond just poi and generic luau food. The generations of mingling East, West, and Polynesian diets have added character and complexity to the "Hawaiian" staple. Not to mention the bevy of spam products, from the loco moco, to the spam flavored mac nuts, to the ever so delicious musubis. Who wouldn't love it?

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